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Is it possible to blame technology?

According to various news sources, the recent problems facing RBS are due to a software problem.  Apparently “a software update didn’t go right”.

Now I am aware that the software involved doesn’t have the capacity to feel blame but I cannot help wondering if somewhere in RBS, there sits a few lines of ‘1’s and ‘0’s feeling slightly sorry for themselves and wondering how it can all be their fault.

Technology is all around us, it runs our lives, and behind almost every piece of equipment there sits a bit of software.  However, is it really the software’s fault when things go wrong?  We tend to quickly blame our computers and their software for any malfunction but surely we are just blaming the easiest thing.  Ultimately it must be human error somewhere in the system – a missing line of code, a typo, too few resources, too many resources, a project that was pushed through too quickly.  In the long run, each one of these errors appears to be a mistake in the tools being used but when we examine things in details, surely it is someone’s mistake, somewhere in the system.

I’m not suggesting RBS publicly blame John Smith from their IT department or Ted Brown from their external developers (although that does appear to be the direction they are heading) but surely they should admit to a human error somewhere in the process.  Sure I can believe the fact that there were problems with overnight processing, and I can certainly believe that the task had outgrown the capabilities of the software as several tech sources have speculated… But that still is not the fault of the software.

RBS have done an okay job managing the story in the media, promising repayments and doing everything they can at every step to say that no one will be out of pocket.  But that doesn’t give back a lost weekend to the person stuck in jail because his bail money didn’t go through.  Nor does it stop me getting frustrated at their ongoing communications blaming the software.  Come on RBS, software is man-made and so is this problem – you don’t have to publicly blame someone but at least you could publicly admit the truth!


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